Montréal Symphonique rouses crowd of thousands on Mount Royal

About 80,000 attended the free concert on the foot of Mount Royal put on by Montreal's three major orchestras and some of the country's biggest pop artists.

The city marked its 375th birthday with the giant, free outdoor concert by three orchestras

Police say 80,000 converged at the foot of Mount Royal to watch the free Montréal Symphonique concert Saturday night put on by the city's largest orchestras for its 375th anniversary. (ICI Musique/Twitter)

Montréal Symphonique, the grandiose free concert by the city's three major orchestras and some of the country's biggest pop artists, garnered a crowd of 80,000 at the foot of Mount Royal and thousands more in parks across the city, where it was projected. 

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre Métropolitain performed on the mountain with artists including Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Patrick Watson, Isabelle Boulay, Coeur de pirate, Pierre Lapointe, DJ Champion and Diane Dufresne.

The concert, for which the theme was "five seasons," celebrated Montreal's 375th anniversary with many references to city landmarks.

The fifth season is the imagination, "a suggestion, an invitation to exploration and to joy," according to the 375th organizing committee's website

It began at 9 p.m. at the corner of Parc and Des Pins avenues, where a congregation of thousands had amassed well beforehand.
About 300 musicians took part in the concert. (ICI Musique/Twitter)

More even watched it live in a number of the city's parks, listed here. The show was also broadcast in full on Radio-Canada's ICI Musique radio station at 100.7 FM. The station said it would make the recording available Sunday online.

The concert was directed by Simon Leclerc and Monique Giroux and included a stirring tribute to late singer songwriter Leonard Cohen and to filmmaker Denis Villeneuve for the soundtrack of his movie Arrival

Quebec singer Diane Dufresne wrapped up the concert with songs, including L'enfant de la lumière.

About 300 musicians participated.

Spring came first as the concert opened with an excerpt of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Quebec singer Daniel Bélanger sang Les Deux Printemps shortly after that.

Siblings Rufus and Martha Wainwright were also part of that season's theme with a rendition of Rufus's April Fools.

The two sang together again later in the night in French with other members of the McGarrigle family, including Anne and Jane.

Rufus Wainwright also sang his popular cover of Cohen's Hallelujah. The song followed the tribute to the late Montreal superstar, during which the orchestras played You Want It Darker, released shortly before his death.

Cohen's hat was placed on the stage.

Inuk singers Elisapie Isaac and Beatrice Deer shared the stage early on, performing a throat song after Isaac sang Qanniuguma.

Montreal's DJ Champion played Plage Doré with Mélissa Lavergne to the beat of a dozen drum players.

Wyclef Jean, who put on a surprise show at Plaza Saint-Hubert Friday, sang Gone Till November and ad libbed, making a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump and rapping, "My name is Wyclef and I don't like the white supremacy."

Patrick Watson sang British The Cinematic Orchestra's To Build A Home, followed by The Great Escape in a duet with Coeur de Pirate.

Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais tweeted from Angrignon Park, saying the crowd there had surpassed 2,000. Though the projection froze a few times, some were pleased with the "fragile" atmosphere.

But the crowd at the park started to thin as the technical problems caused the screen to go black, according to some present.

There were no reports of similar problems at the other parks showing the concert.